When I was 12 someone told me that boys liked long hair. And so I had long hair until yesterday. I am 46 and I have only just stopped putting ‘what boys would like’ at the top of my list when I make decisions about, not only what I do with my hair and make-up, but what I wear (boys don’t like Uggs or gladiator sandals and boys don’t understand asymmetric clothing). Even what I say, ‘Boys don’t like women who are too confident or – heaven forfend – aggressive.’
But everywhere I looked I saw women like me; holding on to their straggily blonde length because they think that it somehow holds the key to their sex appeal. My sex appeal, such as it is, is surely now rooted in the confidence I found to cut off my hair?
And what followed was a miraculous lightness. As the hair fell away so did the pain of the ex-boyfriends who ducked and dived, the one who wouldn’t get divorced, the others who wouldn’t marry me, the trying to make boys like me. Me and my long hair.
It wasn’t a muttony thing. It wasn’t that I felt too old to have long hair, it was that I felt too old to need long hair. It wasn’t the end of my right to long hair but rather then the beginning of a time when I get to have a cool hair cut. I don’t have Mum hair, I have choppy, shoulder-length, blonde, wavy, entirely low-maintenance yet absolutely aspirational hair. ‘You can always grow it back’, says the 12 year-old in my head. ‘Not good enough’ says The Midult. ‘Not anymore…’